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Aaron Colen

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Many said it was too early to reopen

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was criticized by everyone from mainstream media outlets to public health officials to President Donald Trump himself, for plans to reopen businesses and lift the coronavirus lockdown restrictions early. So far, Kemp’s decision appears to be the correct one.

According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Georgia hasn’t seen the spike in new coronavirus cases that many predicted. From the organization’s daily memo:

Georgia appears to have passed a peak in daily incidence. The peak in Georgia’s 7-day moving average (April 20) now falls outside the 14-day window during which new cases may not yet be reported. Georgia was one of the first states to begin relaxing social distancing measures, and there has not been a noticeable change in the daily incidence since that time.

Georgia began its reopening process on Friday, April 24. President Trump responded to the plan by saying “I disagree strongly” and “it’s just too soon.” The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, which has made headlines for being extremely wrong on multiple occasions, said Georgia should wait until late June to open.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms responded by saying it felt like they were living in “The Twilight Zone.”

Now that it’s been nearly 2 1/2 weeks since the start of the reopening process, the rate of new cases has been relatively flat.

There does appear to be a political cost for reopening early, in terms of the public’s approval of governors’ handling of COVID-19. Kemp’s approval rating on that question is at only 39%, contrasted with someone like Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who has embraced stricter policies and an 86% approval of his coronavirus handling.

Polling shows that despite the increased economic hardships caused by the shutdowns, the public mostly favors a more cautious approach to returning to normal. From the New York Times:

But more than two-thirds of respondents said in a Pew Research Center poll out Thursday that they were more concerned that state governments would reopen their economies too quickly than that they might take too long — roughly on par with past responses to the same question.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Georgia reopened and so far has seen no ‘noticeable change’ in daily new coronavirus cases

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN any coronavirus-related content that goes against recommendations from the World Health Organization will be removed from the platform.

In an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Wojcicki described the aggressive measures YouTube is taking to combat what it perceives to be misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And so we talk about that as raising authoritative information,” Wojcicki said, referring to an increase in news consumption on the site. “But then we also talk about removing information that is problematic, you know. Of course, anything that is medically unsubstantiated. So people saying, like, take vitamin C, you know, take turmeric, like, those are—will cure you. Those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy. Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy. And so remove is another really important part of our policy.”

Videos of people touting hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for COVID-19 are also subject to removal. The anti-malarial drug has shown promise in some patients but is not clinically proven to be a consistently effective treatment.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who had COVID-19, reportedly promoted the drug as an effective treatment and downplayed the need for social distancing in a since-removed video.

Wojcicki’s standard for removing videos is more strict than the standard previously established by YouTube in a statement, when it said it would remove “any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and local health authorities.”

That guideline specifically mentioned videos that claim the coronavirus is caused by 5G.

President Donald Trump announced last week that the U.S. would halt funding to the WHO pending a review of its role in covering up the spread of COVID-19.

(H/T: The Daily Wire)

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: YouTube will remove any coronavirus content that goes against WHO recommendations

States could have more power to restrict abortion

The United States Supreme Court will hear a case out of Louisiana on Tuesday that could significantly increase states’ ability to enact laws restricting abortion and make it harder for doctors or clinics to challenge them in court, CBS News reported.

What’s the case?

June Medical Services v. Russo is a case that challenges a 2014 Louisiana law known as the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. That law requires doctors and abortion clinics to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital in order to operate. Pro-abortion advocates view the law as a backdoor way to severely restrict abortion access, while the stated intent of the law is to ensure the safety of patients at abortion clinics.

A federal judge struck down the law based on a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that blocked an allegedly similar law in Texas. But an appeals court reversed that decision, saying the Louisiana law was different enough from the Texas law that it could stand, with one of the reasons being that driving distances in Louisiana were not as great in Texas, so the impact of potentially fewer abortion clinics in the state was less significant.

A question at the heart of this case is whether doctors or clinics have legal standing to challenge state regulations. If it is determined that they don’t, it could become more difficult for abortion advocates to oppose pro-life laws.

What could the impact be?

Opponents of the admitting privileges law say that hospitals often only extend admitting privileges to clinics that will regularly send patients. Since abortions are generally safe, they argue, it is difficult for them to get admitting privileges. Additionally, some medical institutions in a place like Louisiana don’t want to be associated with abortion. So an admitting privileges requirement would effectively eliminate most abortion clinics in the state.

While bans on abortion procedures are often struck down due to Roe v. Wade, bans on abortion access are another way states could limit abortion. Louisiana is certainly a state that would seek to eliminate abortion to any extent possible under the law, and a win in this case would be a huge step toward that.

“If the court allows the Louisiana law to stand, we will probably look back on this case as the acceleration of the total demise of the right to abortion in this country,” said Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Without overruling Roe, the court could gut what is left of the constitutional right to abortion.”

Where do the justices stand?
This case takes on additional interest due to the current makeup of the Supreme Court, including the most recent additions of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices to put the Louisiana law on hold until a full appeal, but the conservative lean of the court presents a real chance of a legal win for pro-life advocates after arguments have been heard.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Abortion case before Supreme Court could deal serious blow to Roe v. Wade and give pro-lifers a huge win

His lucrative board appointment in Ukraine has caused controversy

Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden, owes more than $100,000 in federal taxes from a year during which he served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, according to the Daily Caller.

Biden reportedly earned at least $50,000 per month while on the board of Burisma — a position he did not appear to have any qualifications for — but he was not apparently giving the U.S. government its fair share of his income. The Daily Caller’s Andrew Kerr reported:

The IRS placed a tax lien on Hunter Biden seeking $112,805 in unpaid taxes from 2015, according to records the Daily Caller News Foundation obtained.

The federal agency issued the previously unreported lien in November 2018 and it seeks unpaid taxes for a year in which Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, served on the boards of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings and the Chinese private equity firm BHR Partners.

Hunter Biden’s finances became the focus of media and political attention this summer after President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings and Joe Biden’s involvement.

President Trump’s concern about the Bidens in Ukraine is centered on whether Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time of Hunter’s Burisma appointment, used his power and influence as VP to protect Hunter and Burisma from investigative scrutiny.

More recently, Hunter Biden was revealed to be the father of a child in Arkansas, and the mother of the child is currently suing him for child support. Hunter has reportedly not been forthcoming with the details of his financial situation throughout the process.

Biden says he has been unemployed and without a monthly income since May. He stepped down from the Burisma board earlier this year after being named to the board in 2014.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Hunter Biden owes the IRS more than $100K from his time on the board of Burisma: report

Hypocrisy?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recently defended the idea of “purity tests” in the Democratic Party, saying it’s justifiable to criticize candidates who take donations from wealthy people.

Problem is, Ocasio-Cortez herself received a financial boost from billionaire Tom Steyer, who was very active in funding political causes before deciding to run for president this year.

“For anyone who accuses us for instituting purity tests — it’s called having values,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a Sen. Bernie Sanders rally, according to the New York Post. “It’s called giving a damn. It’s called having standards for your conduct to not be funded by billionaires but to be funded by the people.

“I go into work all the time and I hear people say, ‘What will my donors think?’ I hear that phrase,” Ocasio-Cortez also said. “I hear and I see that billionaires get members of Congress on speed dial and waitresses don’t.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign received a $2,700 donation from Steyer through his family office, Fahr LLC.

While that’s not an overwhelming amount of money, it’s certainly many times larger than a donation a candidate might receive from a typical working voter in The Bronx or Queens, and it raises the question: How many donations can one accept from a billionaire before failing a purity test?

According to OpenSecrets.org, Ocasio-Cortez raised more than $2 million during her 2018 election campaign.

The issue of purity tests and wealthy donors has become a central issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has attacked South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for hosting fundraisers attended by millionaires and billionaires.

Buttigieg has defended those fundraisers by pointing out that Warren herself is much wealthier than he is, and it has since been highlighted that Warren has her own history of courting wealthy donors, even though she says she no longer does so.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: AOC criticized Democrats funded by billionaires — but she accepted a donation from billionaire Tom Steyer

OK for immigration, not for guns

After 75 counties preemptively declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in anticipation of future gun control laws, Virginia Democrats have threatened law enforcement officials in those counties with potential prosecution, according to the Washington Examiner.

In Second Amendment sanctuary counties, similar to liberal illegal immigration sanctuary cities, law enforcement officials would avoid prosecuting people for violations of laws they don’t agree with. Virginia Democratic U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly told the Examiner that such a decision may carry serious consequences.

“I would hope they either resign in good conscience, because they cannot uphold the law which they are sworn to uphold, or they’re prosecuted for failure to fulfill their oath,” Connolly said. “The law is the law. If that becomes the law, you don’t have a choice, not if you’re a sworn officer of the law.”

One lawmaker said the governor should consider deploying the National Guard to enforce gun laws in sanctuary counties.

“They certainly risk funding, because if the sheriff’s department is not going to enforce the law, they’re going to lose money,” Virginia Democratic U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin said. “The counties’ attorneys offices are not going to have the money to prosecute because their prosecutions are going to go down. And ultimately, I’m not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law. That’s his call, because I don’t know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that’s obviously an option he has.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) seemed to contradict himself on the issue, saying there wouldn’t be retaliation for sanctuary counties, but there would be consequences.

“There’s not going to be retaliation. That’s not what I’m about. I’m about making Virginia safer,” Northam said. “If we have constitutional laws on the books and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be consequences, but I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it.”

The threats and suggestions come after gun-rights advocates in the state won a minor victory, when Northam announced that any proposed ban on assault weapons would include a grandfather clause. Under such a clause, legal owners of banned guns could keep them, but would be required to register the weapons.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Virginia Dems threaten Second Amendment sanctuary counties with prosecution and National Guard enforcement

To help students with ‘busy schedules’ get abortions

A bill working its way through the New York state Legislature would require all public colleges and universities in the state to make abortion medication available to students — paid for with taxpayer funds, according to LifeSiteNews.

Assembly bill 8743 “Requires SUNY to offer abortion by medication techniques at all on-campus student health centers at colleges or universities within the SUNY system and creates a fund to help finance the implementation of offering such services at SUNY on-campus student health centers.”

The bill was authored by Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, who said his goal is to make abortion more accessible with students who may not have the time or ability to get to a clinic.

“College students’ often busy schedules, lack of transportation options, and low-incomes present barriers to accessing abortion healthcare,” Epstein wrote in justifying the bill. “Students who want to end an unintended pregnancy have to travel to off-campus providers, potentially missing classes and disrupting their studies.”

The bill would create the Public Colleges Student Health Center Abortion By Medication Fund, which would receive money both from taxpayers and private entities and citizens who choose to contribute.

“Monies within the public college student health center abortion by medication fund shall be made available to the commissioner of health for payment of any and all costs and expenditures incurred in performing any of the work required in making abortion by medication techniques available at public college student health centers within the state,” the bill says.

Critics of the bill say that it creates potentially dangerous situations for women on college campuses who might take the pill without proper medical supervision, and it’s also not the best way to support students dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

“What it doesn’t help finance are campus child care centers, any kind of desperately needed prenatal care,” said Michele Sterlace-Accorsi, executive director of Feminists Choosing Life of New York. “These are the impediments that interfere with women’s ability to carry unplanned pregnancies to term, to choose life for their children and also have a career.”

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: New York bill would require taxpayer-funded medical abortions be available to all students at public colleges

ABC identified the leaker and notified CBS

CBS News has fired the former ABC News employee who allegedly leaked a video that showed ABC News anchor Amy Robach venting her frustrations about the network refusing to run her story about Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex crimes, journalist Yashar Ali reported Thursday.

The video, which was released Tuesday by Project Veritas, showed Robach (who appeared to believe she was not being recorded) expressing her displeasure that the Epstein story was receiving huge coverage in August, even though she had the story three years ago and ABC News wouldn’t run it.

ABC News reportedly identified the source of the leak Wednesday, determining that it was a former employee who had gone on to work at CBS News.

“Two sources familiar with the matter tell me that CBS News has fired the staffer in question,” Ali wrote on Twitter. “This comes after ABC informed CBS that they had determined who accessed the footage of Amy Robach expressing her frustrations about the Epstein story.”

Robach, in the video, exposed the damaging information that ABC News would not run an interview with one of Epstein’s alleged victims because her allegations against people such as Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew could jeopardize the network’s access to influential people.

“We were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate and Will that we — that also quashed the story,” Robach said in the interview. “And then Alan Dershowitz was also implicated in it because of the planes. She told me everything. She had pictures, she had everything.”

Robach quickly issued a statement saying the video showed her in a “private moment of frustration” and that ABC News didn’t stop her from pursuing the story. The network issued a statement saying that the interview didn’t meet editorial standards because of a lack of corroborating evidence for the allegations.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Report: Former ABC News employee who leaked video about Epstein story being suppressed has been fired by CBS

‘We would not put it on the air’

ABC News anchor Amy Robach said she and her network had the story about Jeffrey Epstein and the extent of his pedophilia ring years ago — but the network refused to run the story for fear of upsetting some powerful people.

Robach is seen and heard making the comments in a video released by Project Veritas, which shows her talking on a hot mic on an ABC News set in August about how frustrating it was for her to see the Epstein story blow up when she had all the information three years before.

“It was unbelievable what we had,” Robach said. “Clinton, we had everything. I tried for three years to get it on to no avail. And now it’s all coming out and it’s like these new revelations, and I freaking had all of it.”

Robach said she had an interview with alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts, which included allegations and details about the involvement of Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and Alan Dershowitz. She was told that viewers wouldn’t be interested because they wouldn’t know who Epstein was.

“I’ve had the story for three years,” Robach said. “I’ve had this interview with Virginia Roberts, we would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told ‘Who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.'”

Robach said the British royal family threatened the network to pressure them not to run the interview because of the allegations against Prince Andrew and that the network was worried about losing access, so it complied.

“We were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate and Will that we — that also quashed the story,” Robach said. “And then Alan Dershowitz was also implicated in it because of the planes. She told me everything. She had pictures, she had everything.”

Watch Robach’s frustrated rant below:

Both Robach and ABC News issued statements in response to the leaked video. Robach said the interview didn’t meet ABC News’ editorial standards and that the network never told her to stop pursuing the story.

“As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration,” Robach said in her statement. “I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards.”

ABC News also said it didn’t stop Robach from pursuing the story, and claimed the network has been working on a documentary and podcast on Epstein that will come out next year.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Frustrated ABC News anchor caught on hot mic saying network suppressed Epstein story for years

He said the Chinese are extremely secretive about the Biden issue

Michael Pillsbury, an informal adviser to the White House on China, told the Financial Times that he received “quite a bit of background” information from his contacts in the country related to Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and a $1.5 billion payment from the Bank of China.

Pillsbury would not fully divulge the details of the information he received, but did say he found the Chinese to be extremely secretive and guarded about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China.

“I tried to bring up the topic in Beijing,” Pillsbury told Fox Business last week. “I’ve never seen them get so secretive in my entire life. They would discuss ICBM warheads sooner than talk about what Hunter Biden was doing in China with Vice President Biden.”

While we don’t know what exactly Pillsbury allegedly learned from his Chinese contacts, the $1.5 billion amount referenced is the same as the amount President Donald Trump claimed Hunter Biden received from the Bank of China, although that claim was not backed up with evidence.

Pillsbury would not say whether he was asked by President Trump to ask about the Bidens in China. He later denied that he told FT he received info on the Bidens, but the reporter, Demetri Sevastopulo, shared an email confirming the report.

Biden has dismissed all accusations of wrongdoing in China and in Ukraine as “flat-out lies, debunked conspiracy theories and smears” that the president is using to “undermine my candidacy for the presidency.”

President Trump and his allies have been working to highlight alleged conflicts of interest and corruption by Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine, where Hunter was paid $50,000 per month as a board member for the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. Trump allies have also claimed that Biden’s corruption extends past Ukraine to other countries, including China and Romania.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: White House adviser says he got info from China on Hunter Biden and a $1.5 billion payment from the Bank of China

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